I was at a crossroad in my education where I had exhausted all the available classes I could take for my Anthropology/Sociology Major. As that Fall semester came to a close, and exactly a year left in my undergraduate career, I found myself in a constant state of self-reflection, asking myself, simply, what’s next?
After a few weeks to consider my current professional, and life, trajectory, I decided to pursue a second major in Geography. With advice from an academic adviser and my Research Methods Professor, I enrolled into a full time schedule of geography based courses, including Applications of GIS. My Geography courses gave me an theoretical understanding of time and space that I could apply in the maps I would create during my GIS class. Having done mostly anthropological and sociological methods of study, I was already familiar with many of the presented concepts, but unfamiliar with applications of them. GIS gave me an outlet to efficiently present demographic data to support theories of gentrification and urban expanse that I’ve learned of previously.
I approached my GIS Professor about summer internship opportunities he could possibly recommend me for. He sent my resume to his contact within a city government organization and helped me obtain my first professional internship in GIS. My tenure lasted from May through August of that Summer, where I learned how to update and create maps that the City Departments would need commissioned. Each day I would come in to a hands-on environment that taught me how to think outside of my comfort zone in order to create a map. Another skill I obtained was the use of graphic design programs to create posters for events and logos for the city departments. While my internship was going on, I was also in an Independent Study, under the direction of my GIS Professor, where I was a Teaching Assistant for the GIS course I took the semester before. Each student I helped in GIS came from a different theoretical background, which helped me think outside the box, in terms of assisting them in solving problems with maps. Topics ranged from health, poverty, housing, immigration, and education.
This would be my final semester at the University as an Undergraduate student, and the semester that completed my second major in Geography. Before the Spring semester ended earlier in the year, I was chosen as Gamma Theta Upsilon’s (GTU) President by my GIS Professor, who also happened to be the sponsor for academic clubs within the Global & Sociocultural Studies Department. As the president of GTU, my university’s Geography Honor Society, I coordinated with the members of my club and the leaders of the Sociology Honor Society, Alpha Kappa Delta, and GSS Department to host events to promote our clubs and assist students in having a clear path to success. While my presidency was active, I took on another semester in being a teaching assistant to my professor. I accompanied my professor to two events this semester, the GIS Expo in Palm Beach County and GIS Day at the University of Miami. In making contacts and seeing how professionals work in the field, I definitely made the right decision choosing GIS as career. On graduation day, I felt pride in seeing people I assisted in GIS also graduating with me.
After visiting the University of Miami for GIS Day in the Fall and learning of their Graduate Level Geospatial Technology Certificate, I decided to continue my education at the U. I had originally no plan of ever being a student in my mother’s Alma Mater, but the opportunity presented was one not to pass up. After being accepted, I enrolled in two Graduate courses, Intermediate Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing. Both my professors were very experienced in the field and taught much to me this semester. At the beginning of the semester, I was primarily experienced in vector based representations of data in ArcMap. During my internship I became proficient in using ArcGIS Online and tried ArcGIS Pro. Going into UM, all of what I knew was put to the test and plenty of new ways of representing data were taught to me. I used the Business Analyst Tool, ArcGIS Online, and Story Maps to represent my final project about Community Gardening. I wrote a final paper about deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon using the concepts I learned in remote sensing while also creating graphics to showcase my use of satellite imagery. At the end of the semester, I was invited back to my undergraduate Alma Mater to receive two service excellence awards, one from the GSS Department and the other from the School of International and Public Affairs.
As the 2017 rolls on, the rest will unfold,
Anthropology & Geography, BA
Geospatial Technology Student